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Hello again boys and girls. I realize Batman: Arkham Asylum isn't the latest and greatest video game by any means, however, it is a solid game that merits involvement in our line of game reviews. It's no coincidence that it's also one of the games I played with my recent game pass from Blockbuster.
B:AA (short for Batman: Arkham Asylum, I like to simplify things) is an action-adventure stealth game that gets quite a bit more right than wrong. Many of the other Batman games that have come out over the years took a lot of liberties with their story lines. This one strictly adheres to the comic book mythology. They even went so far as to have long-time Batman scribe Paul Dini write the story. That's a big point in favor of the game. The second big thing they got right with this game is the voice acting. They went out and got the actors from the DC Animated Universe, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to voice Batman and Joker, respectively. Many hardcore Batman aficionados consider these two to be the best representations of what these characters should sound like, in an animated universe anyway. The third biggest achievement? No Robin!! Just how Batman should be!!
The overall story in this game borrows loosely from the graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. It starts out with Batman apprehending The Joker and taking him to Arkham Asylum. Along the way you learn that there has been a fire at Blackgate Prison, so there are a bunch of regular sane criminals in Arkham, and they all 'happen' to be linked to Joker and his crew. Seems pretty standard for one of Joker's ploys. Batman elects to accompany the guards taking Joker to his cell and along the way they are ambushed by Harley Quinn and *gasp* Joker escapes! Man, I totally didn't see THAT coming! Anyway, after this daring escape the madness ensues.
B:AA is based on Batman in his truest form, his fighting, detective, and stealth skills along with all of his crazy gadgets. As is standard in games like this, you are very limited in what you can do at the beginning of the game. Naturally, you unlock new moves and equipment as your progress through the game. Overall, the idea is to be as stealthy as possible, in some cases you aren't even allowed to alert the guards. Don't worry, you get to kick plenty of ass along the way streaming together combos and counter-attacks to gain experience points and then be able to unlock more moves and equipment. Many areas of the game require special equipment in order to advance, so you get plenty of opportunities to use all of your fancy gadgets.
There's plenty in this game that any Batman fan can appreciate. Obviously, there are plenty of encounters with Joker, but you also get to face off against Killer Croc, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy and others and there's plenty of nods to other characters if you keep your eyes open. The game also has some built in exploration benefits as well as you can unlock special achievements and special content... most of which I hardly even scratched the surface.
B:AA currently holds a Guinness World Record for being the 'Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever' along with garnering plenty Game of the Year awards. I've messed around with some other superhero games and many of them could hardly hold my attention. I was involved enough with this game that I wanted to see it all the way through to the end. Perhaps the best part is that a second game has already been announced so you should go play this one, if for no other reason than to be all caught up when the second one is released!
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Publisher: Rocksteady Studios
Platform: Xbox 360 and PS3
Cost: Varies [Amazon Link]
Release date: August 25, 2009